Purifying The Oil VIII
In one of Isaiah’s most beautiful prophecies of redemption he promises, “To bring about for the mourners of Zion to give them splendor instead of ashes, oil of joy instead of mourning, a cloak of praise in stead of a dim spirit. They will then be called ‘elms of righteousness, the planting of God in which to glory.’” (Isaiah 61:3)
The Bet Yaakov Ishbitz (Emor 3) focuses on the Hebrew poetry of, “splendor instead of ashes,” “P’air tachat eifer”: The same Hebrew letters, when moved around having opposite meanings; When a soul has achieved splendor, it raises the body to greater heights. However, when a person is ‘in the ashes,’ and depressed, he cannot contain light or grow for he has no sense of the possibilities of life.
“Splendor instead of ashes,” is the necessary step before “oil of joy instead of mourning;” only a person with an appreciation of his splendor can access the “Shemen,” (oil – or, ‘Shamain,” the richness of life.
The temporary victory of the Chashmonaim was a result and reflection of their sense of their own splendor. They were committed to bringing the same sense of splendor to the Beit Hamikdash, which is why they insisted on using only pure oil, which was not Halachically necessary. Their commitment to the Tiferet of the Beit Hamikdash allowed them to find the oil; the richness and possibilities of life. A year later, despite multiple defeats, they retained their Tiferet, and instituted Chanukah as a celebration of the “oil of joy” that is ready for those who live a life of Tiferet.
We cannot access the complete Chanukah miracle of the “oil of joy,” without an appreciation of Israel’s and our individual Tiferet; our inner splendor and beauty. We can use this time before Chanukah to identify our strengths, our inner beauty, the moments and situations in which our souls shine, so that we approach Chanukah with Tiferet and merit the “oil of joy.”